Islamabad, Feb 3 : Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed appeared to lose his cool on a TV talk show on Thursday when parliamentarian Mani Shankar Aiyar questioned his contention that Indians did not accept Pakistan, and said he should be arrested and brought before a terrorism court.
The host of the show suddenly introduced Saeed, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, on a phone link while Aiyar was in the studio in Islamabad with another panellist.
Responding to a question from the host, the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba listed his reasons for opposing improved trade relations with India and the granting of Most Favoured Nation-status to the neighbouring country.
“Giving India MFN-status is not correct in any manner because there are already big problems that haven't been resolved, including the Kashmir issue. “At this moment, the dams being made by India will create a crisis in Pakistan,” Saeed claimed.
Saeed further claimed he had “never opposed talks” with India but the neighbouring country “has never seriously tried to resolve problems”.
Aiyar, currently on a private visit to Pakistan, responded to this by saying that Saeed was part of a “small group” that opposed better ties with India while ordinary people wanted relations between the two countries to grow.
“There are some persons like Hafiz Saeed in our country who do not want things to move forward but thankfully the ordinary people want our ties to improve. We can improve our relations irrespective of what his (Saeed's) opinion is. “We want him to be caught and taken to a terrorism court,” Aiyar said.
Saeed then claimed there was “no case” against him in Pakistan and that he had always been arrested by Pakistani authorities on the basis of what he said were trumped up charges presented by India.
He further claimed that Pakistan's High Courts and Supreme Court had “cleared” him despite the accusations levelled by India.
“I regret that India does not accept the courts or the law (of Pakistan). They are not even ready to accept Pakistan,” Saeed said.
Asked by the host if he agreed with Saeed's contention, Aiyar replied that he accepted Pakistan “a lakh per cent”. He added: “We do not want Pakistan to be split up or be destroyed. We want Pakistan to be strong, prosperous and we want friendship with Pakistan.
“We want to face the world shoulder-to-shoulder with Pakistan and not oppose each other,” Aiyar said. At this point, Saeed appeared to lose his cool and began speaking in a raised tone before he was quickly cut off by the host. Saeed claimed that if Aiyar accepted Pakistan, then he should accept the verdicts of Pakistani courts clearing him.
“They are clearing me and saying I have no links to terrorism. Which court do they want to take me to? I want to tell him that if you do not like Pakistan's courts then take me to an international court and the present the (evidence) you have,” Saeed said.
Saeed was briefly detained after the UN Security Council declared the JuD a front for the LeT in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.
In recent months, he has played a key role in putting together the Defa-e-Pakistan Council, a conglomerate of some 40 extremist and religious groups.
The Council has organised a string of meetings and massive rallies at which its leaders have targeted India and the US. They have pledged to continue the jihad in Jammu and Kashmir.